February 17, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Book Review: Graphic Novels | March 2013

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School Library Journal starred reviews FLOWERS , Arthur. I See the Promised Land: A Life of Martin Luther King Jr. illus. by Manu Chitrakar. 156p. notes. Groundwood/House of Anansi. 2012. Tr $18.95. ISBN 978-1-55498-328-5.
Gr 7 Up–Who better to give Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life story the full mythopoeic treatment than the renowned African American novelist and performance poet. Flowers’s hyper-vernacular language, swinging rhythms, and conspiratorial first-person tone lend his words a vivacity that is nearly audible. He weaves the entire history of the enslavement of black Americans into King’s story, refers to unspecified gods taking an interest in affairs, and comments on King’s speeches with impressive insight. Brilliant and engaging, Flowers’s composition should be added to the MLK canon. The art is by a scroll painter from a small village in Bengal, India, who had never heard of Dr. King prior to this project. In some ways, this is a successful pairing. The vivid colors and bold forms of Patua are appropriately emphatic, and the naive style matches Flowers’s references to “hoodoo” and his chosen narrative persona, Rickydoc Trickmaster. However, the images are repetitive, and it can be difficult to distinguish individuals. People often appear to be wearing inappropriately peaceful expressions; this, readers are informed in the back matter, is a characteristic of Patua style but might be puzzling for young people. Design also plays an important role. Images are cut into pieces for emphasis, text is artfully placed in blocks that not only enhance readability but also reinforce the counterpoint between narrative and commentary. A colorful and passionate addition to the Martin Luther King, Jr., bookshelf, perhaps best suited to classroom use.–Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD

School Library Journal starred reviews O’CONNOR , George. Poseidon: Earth Shaker. Bk. 5. illus. by author. 76p. (Olympians Series). bibliog. charts. further reading. notes. websites. First Second. Mar. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-828-6; pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-738-8.
Gr 6 Up–O’Connor’s dramatic first-person interpretation of Poseidon’s story will both fascinate readers and generate some empathy for this god who was more feared than loved. The illustrations are colorful, eye-catching, and filled with life. The artist’s visual and stylistic choices in breaking up the panels to illustrate Theseus and the Minotaur inside the labyrinth are especially delightful. Poseidon’s tale is the story of a dysfunctional family with a large number of monstrous children, and this book will send readers scrambling for the closest copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology to read more about the other characters mentioned. Luckily, O’Connor includes an Olympian family tree and lists of recommended books and websites to help readers delve further into their stories. This is a compelling page-turner for readers unfamiliar with the myths as well as for kids who love mythology but would like to see it brought to life in a new way.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

School Library Journal starred reviews MCKAY , Sharon E. War Brothers: The Graphic Novel. illus. by Daniel Lafrance. 176p. Annick. 2013. PLB $27.95. ISBN 978-1-55451-489-2; pap. $18.95. ISBN 978-1-55451-488-5.
Gr 9 Up–In this devastatingly realistic graphic novel, 14-year-old Jacob and his friends are just starting school at George Jones Seminary for Boys. The story tells of their subsequent kidnapping and near induction into the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Complete innocents at first, the boys endure near starvation, grueling conditions, and physical violence as they travel out of northern Uganda and into Sudan. Many of their experiences are difficult to read, including an incident involving Tony, Jacob’s best friend from his village, who is forced to kill an injured boy or face mutilation. Still, what went on in this part of this world in the early 2000s is an important global issue for people of all ages to be aware of, and these boys prove to be a good entry point into a difficult subject. Although War Brothers, adapted from the author’s prose novel Puffin, 2008), is fiction, it is based on interviews with survivors; “everything that happened in this book has happening, and is happening still.” With his first graphic novel, Lafrance’s watercolor artwork truly shines, depicting many close-ups that convey the deep emotions that the characters are going through, whether it be the naïve innocence of Jacob, the confliction of Tony, or the psychotic aggression of their LRA kidnappers. A truly important work that is well worth the read.–Ryan P. Donovan, New York Public Library

The following titles are reviewed in the March print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Elementary and Middle School

BYRNE , Eugene. Darwin. illus. by Simon Gurr. 104p. bibliog. websites. Smithsonian. 2013. pap. $9.95. ISBN 978-1-58834-352-9.

COSBY, Nate . Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse . illus. by Chris Eliopoulos. 96p. Archaia Entertainment. 2012. Tr $19.95. ISBN 978-1-9363-9367-1.

GRINE , Chris. ChickenHare. illus. by author. 160p. Scholastic/Graphix. 2013. pap. $10.99. ISBN 978-0-545-48508-1. LC 2012936214.

HELFAND , Lewis. Abraham Lincoln. illus. by Manikandan. 108p. Campfire. 2013. pap. $12.99. ISBN 978-93-80741-21-5.

KINNEY , Sarah & Stefan Petrucha. Small Volcanoes. Bk. 1. illus. by Stan Goldberg. 64p. (Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew Series). Papercutz. 2012. pap. $6.99. ISBN 978-1-59707-354-7; Tr $10.99. ISBN 978-1-59707-355-4.

LINDGREN , Astrid. Pippi Moves In! tr. from Swedish by Tiina Nunnally. illus. by Ingrid Vang Nyman. 56p. Drawn & Quarterly. 2012. Tr $14.95. ISBN 978-1-77046-099-7.

MCCRANIE , Stephen. Belly Flop! Bk. 3. illus. by author. 224p. (Mal and Chad Series). Philomel. 2012. pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25658-5.

MUCHAMORE , Robert. The Recruit: The Graphic Novel. illus. by John Aggs. 176p. (CHERUB Series). Hodder, dist. by Trafalgar Square. Apr. 2013. pap. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4449-0318-8.

SMILEY , Jess Smart. Upside Down: A Vampire Tale. Bk. 1. illus. by author. 144p. Top Shelf. 2012. pap. $9.95. ISBN 978-1-60309-088-9.

TANEJA , Shweta. Krishna: Defender of Dharma. illus. by Rajesh Nagulakonda. 152p. Campfire. 2013. pap. $14.99. ISBN 978-93-80741-12-3.

High School

SAKISAKA , Io. Strobe Edge. Bk. 1. illus. by author. 200p. Shojo Beat. 2012. pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4215-5068-8.

SHAPIRO , Howard. The Stereotypical Freaks. illus. by Joe Pekar. 140p. Animal Media. 2012. pap. $11.95. ISBN 978-0-578-11217-6; ebook $4.95. ISBN 978-0-578-11218-3.

THUNG , Diana. August Moon. illus. by author. 320p. Top Shelf. 2012. pap. $14.95. ISBN 978-1-60309-069-8.

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